What is it?

The Quick Response Code, more commonly referred to as a QR code is a 2-D barcode that can be scanned using a QR scanner or a camera phone with a specific application on it. It was created by Toyota’s subsidiary, Denso-wave in 1994 in Japan, and has since grown immensely popular in Japan and South Korea, and in the past two years has become increasingly more common in the United States.

What are QR codes used for?

QR codes can be used for a variety of things, the most common being to take the user to a mobile or social media site, to download contact information directly on to a user’s phone, and to watch a video. More creatively, a QR code can be used to tell a story – like where those organic bananas you’re about to buy from the grocery store are coming from.  They can also be used to tell you what shirt would be a great match for those pants you’re thinking about purchasing.

Do they have to be so…boring?

There are many creative ways to display your QR code, and with up to a 30% margin of error, you can even sync your QR code with your brand, like Disney. If you don’t want to put your brand into the actual code, you can arrange your brand around it. The Red Cross did a great job of this with its efforts to help Japan earlier this year. Or use a series of QR codes, like on this trip through Central Park

Some other cool ideas:

  • QR code from a waffle
  • On the back of a cocktail napkin or coaster at a restaurant
  • In calamari ink
  • For wrapping paper

More interesting uses: to draw attention to your branding and play on the curiosity of the common question: What is that barcode?

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